Gym essentials are a must have for everybody, but moreso for beginners. The first time I went to the gym I definitely looked out of place, it was as though I had the words “beginner” etched into my forehead. I came with nothing. I just put on my gym wear and I had my phone and earphones in my head and off I went to the gym with so much excitement.
I assumed everything I needed will be provided to me at the gym. Boy, was I in for some rude awakening.
After that day I started making a list on my way home of all the things I need to bring with me to the gym.
Once I knew what I needed, I got them and my gym experience was better for it.
You might be a beginner and you’ve decided to follow through on your new year’s resolution to take your fitness seriously and join a gym even though it is almost halfway into the year. It doesn’t matter when you started the point is you’re starting.
Gym Essentials for every beginner
You might be wondering what you need to bring with you and this post will tell you just that.
This is the first thing you need to bring to the gym if you just joined one. I believe why you need this bag should be pretty clear, however, if it isn’t for you, allow me to explain.
A gym bag is like a unifying item, it is where you put the rest of the items that you will bring to the gym to give you a more organized and put-together look.
When I joined the gym I didn’t have a gym bag the first day, although I went with just my phone and I didn’t really bring with me anything else that I should have brought because, to be honest, I didn’t even have them, I had to make a list afterwards then visit the supermarket to purchase them. A gym bag is great and essential because it’s a safe place to put the things you’re going to the gym with like exercise bands, lotions, jump rope, workout clothes etc.
This is definitely better than carrying a thousand and one things on your hand and looking totally dishevelled and frazzled.
The best practice is to restock the gym bag with all the things you need after you return from the gym (fresh/clean essentials). This leaves your bag and by extension you, ready at all times to hit the gym.
A lot of people attend the gym from the office and other places and so they pack their workout clothes and change into them when they get to the gym.
Suppose your work schedule only permits you to work out after work daily, you will most likely have to carry your gym bag with your workout clothes so you can change into them when you get to the gym after work. Another example of a situation that might require you to carry your gym wear and change into it at the gym is, suppose you need to run an errand, meet up with some friends or go somewhere else before getting to the gym, you might prefer not returning home and coming out again, so you just throw in everything you need including your workout clothes into your gym bag.
My last gym had locker rooms that provided lockers where we could keep our properties when we came to the gym. This was intended to avoid people cluttering the workout areas with their stuff. Everyone was required to put their gym bags and properties inside the lockers and remove them (take them to the workout areas when you need to use them.
The second time I came to the gym I arrived with my gym bag and when I got to the locker room and discovered that I didn’t have any padlock and I needed one I being uneasy. I didn’t feel confident leaving my stuff in an open locker unattended to. Anything could have happened. A gym is a public place with all manner of people and I knew that leaving my stuff in there without properly safeguarding them is just inviting random people to potentially go through my stuff and steal my things.
I was already at the gym and I couldn’t get a padlock so what I did was to keep a close eye on my bag, I went into the locker room after each exercise sets/reps to check that my property was still intact.
As you can guess this made it difficult for me to concentrate on my workout. I reduced my workout time and I left early because I had anxiety over the whole situation.
My gym at the time had a policy that stated you should protect your property because they will not be liable if anything got lost or missing. This puts the entire responsibility on you and it means you won’t get any replacements from the gym if you were to lose an item while at the gym.
I recommend that you buy a padlock so you can lock your locker and have peace of mind during your workouts because you know you will meet everything just the way you left them. This also applies to leaving your gadgets in those lockers.
My phone always distracted me during workouts with the incessant notifications I received that often had me taking a glance to know what it was about. Often I will decide to answer one message and subsequently realize 15 minutes later that I am still on the phone responding to messages that could have waited till after my workout thereby eating into my workout time.
If you have padlocks, then you get the option of locking your phone in the locker with the rest of your stuff and retrieving it when you “really” need to use it. it keeps your property secure and this makes it a gym esential. This will minimize your distraction and provide a better and more productive workout experience.
For me, while working out music is essential. It keeps me upbeat and feeling energized. Most times after work I am already tired and stressed but I need to go to the gym. I put on my favourite workout playlist and I start jamming to it immediately I leave work and I’m headed to the gym. By the time I get to the gym,, I am full of energy and I’m ready to get the workouts in.
Most gyms understand the effect of music and so they have speakers all over the gym. Sometimes they have a playlist with songs that aren’t half bad filtering through the speakers and filling the entire gym but if you are particular like me you know that half bad songs don’t cut it. Why should you listen to those when you can have your own special and great workout playlist tailored to meet all your needs.
You might even decide to listen to some podcasts while you work out and you need your Airpods/headphones to do this.
You might need your AirPods/ headphones even if you don’t want to listen to podcasts or music. You are probably wondering what you’d need them for at this point and I’ll tell you.
This tip will come in handy mostly to women. A lot of the times at the gyms some men take it upon themselves to look for dates at the gym. I cannot count how many times this particular tip has helped me avoid unwanted conversations.
Immediately I see a guy making a beeline to me and I know I am not interested in any conversation, I put my headphones on creating the impression that I’m listening to music and stating without the use of words that I just want to work out and I do not desire to engage in any chit-chats.
Some people immediately take the hint and then leave you be, others might not. This set of people will still try to engage you but if you keep asking them to repeat their questions and giving sparse one-word responses in a little while they’ll figure out you really don’t want to talk.
This is helpful if you do not want to seem impolite by outrightly saying you do not have any interests in the conversation and you’d rather prefer to go back to your workout.
It’s the next best thing short of wearing a sign on your neck that says “keep off” it is a more subtle way of saying “leave me alone, I don’t want to talk”.
Take headphones/Airpods with you, you never know when you might need them.
These are an undeniable essential, most people bring two. The first is their workout towel, this is the one that they use to clean their sweat and keep themselves dry and comfortable during their workouts. The second is the shower towel, this is the towel they use to clean their bodies after taking a shower.
On the occasions when I would go to the gym before work, I had my work clothes in my gym bag, after my workout session, I would take a shower, dry my body with the towel then put on my work clothes and get ready to head to the office.
It wasn’t always like this, there were days that I forgot to pack a towel and I ended up buying the one sold at my gym at a significantly inflated price and I regretted not coming with mine.
Some people do not come with theirs and they just end up using the towels shared at the gym every day. I do not recommend this. Most of these towels are used by different people every day, the gym only launders them at the end of the day and re-distributes them to members the next day.
You cannot vouch for their washing process and even if you could it is just an unnecessary risk that might have dire complications.
You stand the chance of contracting skin disease or infection at worst and breaking out at best. Either one is not great. It is a smarter move to get your own personal towels and stay healthy.
The cost of getting as many towels as you need will always be cheaper than the cost of treating any skin disease you might contract.
A water bottle
A water bottle seems quite obvious but believe it or not, numerous people still forget daily to take one with them to the gym. I had this water bottle that I always took to the gym, it was my favourite because it always kept my water chilled till the end of my workout.
Most of us get pretty dehydrated when we workout, this is normal because the sweat that our body is producing is literally water leaving our bodies.
Health specialists always recommend that we drink water to stay hydrated when we work out. Take a bottle of water with you to the gym it is a reminder to you to keep hydrated and also water keeps you refreshed.
Some gyms might sell water in the gym but I believe water bottles trump just buying water at the gym because, with your own water bottles, you can choose to prepare some lemon water, cucumber water or apple water which is great for you, as it doubles for water with fruits in tiny sizes inside. It gives the water a nice flavour with added health benefits and whenever you take a gulp of water and you have some fruits left in your mouth it is a welcomed surprise.
You can bring in your own favourite post-workout snacks when you go to the gym. Some protein bars, healthy nuts like almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios will help you recharge after a draining workout session. This can help keep you full so you aren’t so famished when you get home that you overindulge with carbs in an attempt to replace all the energy you exerted during your workout.
Exercise tools like resistance bands, gloves, yoga mats and jump rope
My motto is “if it makes your experience better and you can afford it then buy it.” This is especially true for workout equipment like resistance bands, yoga mats and jump ropes. My gym had most of these things but never in enough quantities, there were always numerous people waiting to use them. I find that it saves my time if I bring mine along to the gym since this equipment is portable. There is also the issue of quality. I might not like the quality of the ones available at my gym. There are particular brands I shop my workout concerns from because they often provide high-quality products that meet my needs.
You should get these products for yourself because not only are they useful at the gym, you can also use them when you work out at home.
Wipes are necessary at the gym, you can use them to wipe them in common facilities before you use them. They are pretty affordable and portable too.
This doesn’t fit in your gym bag but it is definitely essential. Joining a gym can be daunting and overwhelming. Your determination to achieve your fitness goals is a force that will push you through even when it gets really difficult.
Joining a gym requires commitment if you want to have any results from your effort. Your body will definitely push back at the beginning because it isn’t used to the new level of physical activity you’ve just subscribed to and that is totally normal.
To build a habit you have to repeat the same actions till it becomes a part of you and your body is trained to expect it and some cases even demand it.
However, before you get there, your determination is the car that drives you closer to your fitness destination.
You do not need the most expensive gears when you go to the gym, you just need something affordable that does the job and that’s more than enough.
Use this post to make a checklist and never forget to take any of the essentials to the gym again. Feel free to also add some things you believe you might need at the gym. Customize your gym essentials to suit your needs.
If you have any questions or comments about this post please feel free to share them. Remember you can always talk to me.